Tuesday, 09 April 2024 04:52

The real reason why so many managers don’t know how to manage

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New bosses are often promoted for the wrong reason and are unprepared for the role. On the latest episode of ‘The New Way We Work,’ we explore what it would look like to treat management like the important job it is.

One of the most universal problems with work is bad bosses. Part of the reason so many people end up with a terrible manager is that as a society, we associate personality characteristics like charisma to mean someone has strong leadership skills. Instead, it’s often a sign of narcissism. 

But personality isn’t the only reason why so many people dislike their bosses. Often people find themselves in management roles because they were good at their job, but then receive little or no guidance on how to manage others. Their managers also often never received management training and in many cases are making it up as they go. 

If you’re lucky, you end up with an emotionally intelligent manager who takes it upon themselves to figure out how to work effectively with the people they manage. More often, though, people end up stuck in the middle doing what they think is right with no guidance or becoming frustrated by a boss who doesn’t know what they are doing. And, often, they end of quitting. In fact, around 50% of people say they’ve quit a job because of a bad boss. 

But what if we treated management like the important job it is and invested in making sure people have the tools they need to succeed when they get promoted?

On the most recent episode of The New Way We Work, I spoke to Lia Bosch, the founder of the consulting firm Thrive People Strategies, about why so many managers are unable to effectively lead, and the best way to learn to be a better manager.

What’s so hard about being a manager?

The biggest hurdle for new managers is that often they are promoted for the wrong reason. New managers will often be promoted because they’ve done good work as an individual contributor and there’s an open position, or they’ve been very productive or the company wants to keep them.

But Bosch says, the company often doesn’t give the new managers enough preparation for how managing people is different from doing an individual contributor role. “There are expectations that are set for the individual that even the individual is just trying to figure out how it all works,” Bosch says. 

What makes a good manager

A good manager, Bosch says, spends 75% of their time on the job of managing. That involves building relationships and trust, managing work, overseeing career development, and dealing with problems. Only 25% of their time is spent on the technical part of their job, or whatever tasks they likely spent most of their time on as an individual contributor. Most companies don’t give managers the time to do this, and most managers don’t approach their jobs this way, which means often managers just aren’t very good at their jobs.

One of the biggest mistakes managers make (and the thing employees hate the most) is micromanaging. Bosch says inexperienced managers often resort to micromanaging because they feel like they’re losing control of the work and don’t trust their employees to do it how they would. But, she says, great managers explain the why and let their employees figure out the how. They communicate expectations clearly and then get out of the way and focus on the outcome, not the process.

How to help managers improve

If the biggest issue for new mangers is that they are thrown into the job with no training, the obvious answer might be a training course. But, as Bosch points out, one-off trainings led by HR are set up to check a box and aren’t effective. “The organization needs to make management development and employee development a strategic priority because the future depends on the skills and the knowledge that these individuals need to have,” she says. So she advises that companies look at options for longer term management programs and consider mentorships with experienced managers.


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